Time to Think

“Where’d you go?” Red asked Billy. The young man in navy-blue pinstripe suit stepped out of a black portal into the restaurant that served as the guild hall. Though he was a new member, a majority of the guild considered Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington their leader. It seemed like an innocent question; but, Billy knew Red was testing him. He thought letting Red have some fun on a derby team would be a good way to let him cut loose. He did not count on his prisoner finding a guild of people eager to worship him. The last thing Billy wanted was for Red to think he answered to him in any way.

“Somewhere else,” he said curtly. Billy glanced around the restaurant and noticed only the NPCs were present. Half the tables in the restaurant were occupied by people that never left. They never finished their one meal and only existed to make the restaurant feel alive. “Where’re all your new friends?” Red shrugged.

“Somewhere else,” he said smugly. Billy sighed. If he didn’t deal with Red’s growing attitude early it would continue to worsen. He felt relieved no one was around except for the NPCs.

“Red,” Billy stood up straighter and faced the seated clown. Red’s AlterNet character was a portly, pasty-white clown. He wore a black leather tunic with bright, neon-green suspenders. Red’s hair was made of thin, blue, rubbery strands that reminded Billy of a koosh ball. “I feel like you’re not taking me seriously,” Red burst into laughter but Billy kept talking. “We have an arrangement and you’ve kept your part so far. But, it seems like you think I’m not much more than Vanilla’s messenger.”

Mentioning her name was a risk; Billy hoped the man was still too scared to demand to see her. If he found out Vanilla was dead Billy would lose all leverage he had over Red.

“If something happens to me, she’ll show up,” Billy lied. “But she wouldn’t assign me here if I couldn’t handle you. So, let me make it crystal clear for you,” Billy smiled. Red blinked. When he opened his eyes he stood next to Billy on a small raft out in the middle of a calm. “Vanilla is not the only one strong enough to stop your time. You’re strong, but all you do with your power is bully others,” Billy shook his head. “Bullies are just cowards with power.” Billy smiled at the white-haired man; on this Earth, they were out of the AlterNet. Red’s appearance was now an old, pot-bellied man.

“They say cowards live the longest. I really hope that’s true. In fact, I’m going to make it true just for you, if you step out of line.” Billy paced a circle around the old man. “You’ve probably realized you can’t move. But you can still hear me,” Billy waved a hand directly in front of Red’s wrinkled face. “You can still see, but you can’t speak. I’ve frozen most of your bodily functions in time. You won’t age. You won’t starve, you won’t so much as get a sniffle. But you’ll be able to think and see. You’ll be able to count the sunrises to keep track of how many millennia go by; day by boring day.”

Red blinked again. He opened his eyes back in the guild’s restaurant with rubbery blue hair and a white face. “It doesn’t matter how fast you are; you can’t outrun time. Are we clear?” Red nodded.

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